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Children's Bookwatch

Volume 29, Number 2 February 2019 Home | CBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Biography Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Board Book Shelf Picturebook Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Multimedia Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Music CD Shelf Science Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Poetry Shelf Buddhism Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Books in Series Story Monsters Ink Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Carl Went To The Library
M. J. Mouton, author
Jezreel S. Cuevas, illustrator
Rare Bird Books
453 S. Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angels, CA 90013
9780998314792, $16.95, HC, 24pp,

Now with "Carl Went To The Library: The Inspiration of a Young Carl Sagan", children ages 1-8 can blast off with Carl as he embarks on a curious journey of adventure in order to find the answer to a question that no one seems to be able to give him an answer to. Encouraged by his mother, Carl's mission takes him to a wonderful place where imagination can run rampant and answers can be found -- the Public Library! There is where he finds the answer he is looking for and more in this creative and extraordinary tale based on actual events in the life of Carl Sagan. Engagingly written by M. J. Mouton and charmingly illustrated by Jezreel S. Cuevas, and part of the simply outstanding 'Tiny Thinkers' series from Rare Bird Books, "Carl Went To The Library: The Inspiration of a Young Carl Sagan" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections!

It's a Girl Thing!
Pri Ferrari
Starberry Books
c/o Kane Press, Inc.
225 East 46th St., #4D, New York, NY 10017-2924
9781635921243, $18.99, HC, 48pp,

What do girls like to do? What can they be? "It's a Girl Thing!: Smart, Fierce, and Leading the Way" by Pri Ferrari is a fun and inspiring book answers those questions for young readers ages 5- 9 and stands as a reminder to girls that they are strong and capable. Illustrated with adorable spot art that contains just a dash of whimsy, the diverse group of girls showcased throughout is sure to inspire the next generation of rule-makers and rule-breakers. As thoughtful and thought- provoking as it is wonderfully entertaining, "It's a Girl Thing" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "It's a Girl Thing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Picture Girl
Marlene Targ Brill
Golden Alley Press
9781732027602, $7.99, PB, 106pp,

An independent, feisty girl, Luba drew constantly -- after school, in storm shelters where her family hid from the murderous Cossacks, and on the SS Estonia on their way to America. By the time they finally saw the Statue of Liberty, Luba and her family had suffered violence, injuries, illnesses, and a storm at sea. Once they were safely on Ellis Island, things turned bleak again. While the twins were recovering from measles, the immigration quota for Ukrainians was filled. It looked like the family would have to return to Ukraine, where they were hated for their faith. Then a guard saw Luba's drawing of President Woodrow Wilson, and everything changed. Based on the true story of Louise Dunn Yochim, (who is the art supervisor for the Chicago Public Schools), "Picture Girl" is a work of historical fiction for those who love reading stories about children whose courage and abilities change their world. Exploring the themes of immigration, perseverance and family values, religious persecution, pogroms, life on Ellis Island, using art to overcome adversity, "Picture Girl" by Marlene Targ Brill will prove to be an entertaining, thought-provoking addition to family, school, and community library collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Picture Girl" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Biography Shelf

Never Caught
Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534416178 $18.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Although Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge was written especially for young adults, readers of all ages can thoroughly appreciate this in-depth biography of Ona Judge, a young female slave who served the wife of America's first President, George Washington. Ona eventually dared to run away, and live as a fugitive yet free woman in the North. Her life as a free woman was hard, marked by devastating poverty, and she coped with the sorrow of outliving her husband and children through her strong religious faith. A riveting, true-life saga that takes pains to clarify between facts known from historical sources, deductions that can be reasonably inferred from available evidence, and speculations (especially speculations about the motives of the people in Ona Judge's life, including the Washingtons), Never Caught is a welcome addition to public and school library YA biography shelves. Highly recommended.

Becoming Emily
Krystyna Poray Goddu
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780897330039, $17.99, HC, 192pp,

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 - May 15, 1886) wrote short, often enigmatic poems that are widely read and quoted by people of every age. Yet, as well known as her poetry is, Dickinson as a person is considered to have been a mysterious recluse -- a silent figure who wore only white, wrote in secret, never left her home, and had no interest in sharing her poetry. In "Becoming Emily: The Life of Emily Dickinson, young readers ages 10-16 will learn how as a child, an adolescent, and well into adulthood, Dickinson was a lively social being with a warm family life. Highly educated for a girl of her era, she actively engaged in both the academic and social aspects of the schools she attended until she was nearly eighteen. Her family and friends were important to her, and she was a prolific, thoughtful, and witty correspondent who shared many poems with her closest friends and relatives. Very highly recommended for both school and community library American Biography collections, "Becoming Emily" is an indispensable resource includes photos, full-length poems, letter excerpts, a time line, source notes, and a bibliography to present a vivid portrait of this singular American poet. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Becoming Emily" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Japanese Myths, Legends & Folktales
Yuri Uasuda, author
Yoshinobu Sakakura & Eiichi Mitsui, illustrators
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805314739, $17.99, PB, 128pp,

"Japanese Myths, Legends & Folktales" is a beautifully illustrated bilingual (Japanese/English) compendium of 12 of authentic Japanese folktales. The tales were originally written in English by author Yuri Yasuda based on her interpretations of traditional Japanese stories. The Japanese versions of each tale include simple kanji with furigana pronunciations to help young learners recognize the characters. The stories comprising this simply outstanding collection include: The Tongue-Cut Sparrow; The Strong Boy; The Marriage of a Mouse; The Fisherman and the Tortoise; The Luminous Princess; The Peach Boy; The Kachi Kachi Mountain; The Old Men With Wens; The Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom; The One-Inch Boy; The Lucky Cauldron; The Monkey and Crab Fight. Certain to be an enduringly popular and entertaining addition to family, school, and community library Folklore/Fairytale shelves, as well as Bilingual collections for young readers ages 5-14.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Shelby's Story
W. Bruce Cameron
TOR Starscape
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250301918, $16.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 208pp, Ages 8-11.

Shelby's Story: A Dog's Way Home Tale tells of a rescue puppy who grows up to become a movie star and will appeal to advanced elementary to adult readers who like uplifting animal rescue stories. If the story of Shelby sounds familiar, that's because it's also been made into a movie, A Dog's Way Home, in which "Bella" finds her wellspring of talent. Dog enthusiasts of all ages will find this different tale of a fruitful journey to be uplifting and fun.

Wonders of Nature
Florence Guiraud
Prestel Junior
c/o Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791373652, $25.00, HC, 96pp,

Bright-eyed birds, evanescent butterflies, tropical fish and other pleasures await young readers ages 5-9 in "Wonders of Nature: Explorations in the World of Birds, Insects and Fish", a large format volume that will appeal to young children's curiosity about the natural world. Replete with charming and expertly rendered pictures of birds, insects, and fish by award-winning author and illustrator Florence Guiraud, "Wonders of Nature" will provide hours of fascinated and informative exploration. Presented in double-page spreads, interspersed with informative texts, Guiraud's artwork fully captures the wondrous beauty that populates our oceans, forests, and fields. Her expressive illustrations create a sense of intimacy and empathy with the natural world and their exquisite detail rewards close investigation. Certain to captivate both children and adults, this magnificent volume will instill in its readers a connection to the world around them and ignite a sense of wonder about all living things. Simply stated, "Wonders of Nature" is especially and unreservedly recommended, especially for family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections.

Nursery Rhyme & Shine
Sally Garland, illustrator
Flowerpot Press
9781486715619, $7.99, Board Book, 20pp,

Featuring the charming illustrations of Sally Garland, "Nursery Rhyme & Shine" is a board-book treasury of endearingly illustrated nursery rhymes for children ages 5-6 that includes such classics as "Wheels on the Bus" and "Pat-a-Cake" -- and is complemented by a smartphone-scanable QR code to listen to a medley of the featured songs. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in concept and presentation, "Nursery Rhyme & Shine" is a very special, wonderfully entertaining, and highly recommended board book for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library collections.

Black Bear Goes to Washington
Denise A. Lawson
Brown and Lowe Books
9781732230316, $18.99, HC, 30pp,

Black Bear Goes to Washington is based on the real adventures of Black Bear, a sled dog who spent 11 years in a remote part of Alaska along the Yukon River. Learn about this endearing sled dog's life in the Alaskan bush and her journey of discovery after she arrives in Washington. Through a unique style of illustration, readers are immersed in the world of Black Bear as she adjusts to her new world. The book inspires teamwork and cooperation and introduces young minds to the concept of adapting to change and new experiences. Through the voice of Black Bear, the story conveys the essence of sled dog life in Alaska and lightheartedly suggests that we could all learn a little something from some old sled dogs. A thoroughly charming picture book story that will have a very special appeal for children ages 5-8, "Black Bear Goes to Washington" is an especially recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections for young readers.

The Board Book Shelf

Will Giraffe Laugh?
Hilary Leung
Cartwheel Books
c/o Scholastic
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9781338215618, $7.99, Board Book, 38pp,

In the board book pages of "Will Giraffe Laugh?", children ages 3-5 will meet Giraffe. Giraffe loves to laugh, but today is different. Giraffe is cranky! All of Giraffe's friends want to cheer him up . . . but is laughter the best medicine for such a grumpy guy? Kids will enjoy finding out in this surprising and memorable storybook all about friendship, feelings, grumpiness, and of course, laughter! A fresh and funny new book in creative talent Hilary Leung's memorable series of animal question stories all about preschool milestone moments that includes two other outstanding board books "Will Ladybug Hug?" (9781338215601, $7.99) and "Will Sheep Sleep?" (9781338215625, $7.99), "Will Giraffe Laugh?" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library board book collections.

The Picturebook Shelf

Shimri's Big Idea
Elka Weber, author
Inbal Gigi Bousidan, illustrator
Apples & Honey Press
c/o Behrman House Inc.
241 Millburn Avenue, Millburn, NJ 07041
9781681155418 $17.95

Shimri's Big Idea: A Story of Ancient Jerusalem is a children's picturebook about a young boy who makes a difference by using his head. Shimri isn't old enough or strong enough to help his other family members directly with the housework, but he can still watch and learn from them. They, like most people in Jerusalem, depend on water from a spring to survive - and bringing the water home each day is an arduous chore. The King decides that spring water needs to be made more accessible to the people, but how? Shimri has an idea or three - and great ideas can come from small mouths! Shimri's wise thinking will surprise readers of all ages, and young people especially will find the story inspirational. Shimri's Big Idea is highly recommended, especially for family storytime.

Claire Lost Her Bear at the World's Fair
Mark and Chris Mariano
Polar Press
c/o Golden Bell Studios
9781946185082 $17.95 hc

Claire Lost Her Bear at the World's Fair is a children's picturebook with a delightful, graphic- novel style story about a young girl, her beloved toy bear, and their memorable visit to the 1964 New York World's Fair. Stylized artwork and amazing facts pepper this delightful, read-aloud tour of wonders on display over half a century ago. "Fair Fact: U.S. Rubber Company's Giant Tire Ferris Wheel climbed 80 feet into the air." Young readers also have the option of purchasing a lovable, plush "Benny Bear" of their own, either separately or bundled with the picturebook ($34.95).

Oskar Can...
Britta Teckentrup
Prestel Junior
c/o Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791373614, $14.95, HC, 32pp,

"Oskar Can..." is new book for children ages 2-5 that sends a simple, positive message that will empower kids to claim their own accomplishments. Tie a shoe? Brush their teeth? Wash their dishes? Bounce a ball? If Oskar can do it, they can too. Fans of Oskar's adventures will be thrilled to discover their friend is back with a new story. And readers meeting Oskar for the first time will discover a delightful, relatable character who makes them feel good about themselves and the world around them. "Oskar Can..." by author and artist Britta Teckentrup features vibrant, collage based illustrations have made her books a favorite in homes, schools, and libraries. And her character, Oskar, based on her family cat of the same name, is the perfect companion for young readers, making "Oskar Can..." especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library collections.

Just Like a Flower
Sabrina Rigaud-Carrie, author
Kendy Calixte, illustrator
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
5 South First Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781947860179, $21.95, HC, 40pp,

How do our experiences shape who we are? How can we choose our thoughts to grow into positive people? In "Just Like a Flower" by author Sabrina Rigaud-Carrie and illustrator Kendy Calixte, children ages 6-10 can join a colorful little girl named Sarah on a walk with her mother, as they discuss the meaning of compassion, appreciation, acknowledgment, and learning from mistakes to discover the qualities that already live inside all of us, just waiting for the chance to bloom. Original, engaging, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Just Like A Flower" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Night Train, Night Train
Robert Burleigh, author
Wendell Minor, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580897174, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

"Night Train, Night Train" deftly combines author Robert Burleigh's rhyming, lyrical text describes the sights and sounds of a nighttime journey from country to city on a passenger train in the 1940s with artist Wendell Minor's superbly imaged black and white illustrations that occasionally features pops of color as a train continues its trip until the full-color spectrum appears as dawn breaks and passengers arrive at the station. A nostalgic and innovative choice for young readers ages 2-5 who are fascinated by trains, "Night Train, Night Train" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library picture book collections.

The Discovery of Fireworks and Gunpowder
Phil Amara, author
Oliver Chin, author
Juan Calle, illustrator
PO Box 31846, San Francisco, CA 94131
9781597021425, $16.95, HC, 40pp,

In "The Discovery of Fireworks and Gunpowder: The Asian Hall of Fame" by the team of authors Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, and illustrated with the artwork of Juan Calle, children ages 3-8 will explore the first English children's book about fireworks and gunpowder! Part of the Immedium series 'Asian Hall of Fame' this lively picture book adventure shows how some cool things were created in Asia. "The Discovery of Fireworks and Gunpowder" is the second adventure of a cute red panda named Dao who guides the school kids Ethan and Emma back in time to discover how fireworks and gunpowder were made! As Dao leads the way, children learn about surprising historical facts, young readers will travel to ancient China, and zoom back to the future, making "The Discovery of Fireworks and Gunpowder" an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Discovery of Fireworks and Gunpowder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Stacy McAnulty, author
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, illustrator
Running Press Kids
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780762462124, $17.99, HC, 32pp,

What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids ages 2-5 will find love everywhere in this delightful picture book. Love can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in a lunch box, or a family singing together on a car trip -- and it isn't always what is expected! Combining the delightful illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff with the sweetly simple prose storytelling of author Stacy McAnulty, "Love" is the perfect book to teach young children just what love means, why it's important, and how they can spread the love in their own daily lives. While very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Four Seasons of Fun
Pamela Duncan Edwards, author
Sylvie Daigneault, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585364039, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

Set against the backdrop of a magnificent apple tree, "Four Seasons of Fun: Egg Hunts! Fireworks! Pumpkins! Reindeer!" by the team of author Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrator Sylvie Daigneault uses poetry to cycle through the changes of the four seasons. Beginning with springtime, rhyming couplets take young readers ages 5-7 through seasonal activities such as kite flying in the spring, summertime picnicking, fall trick-or-treating, all the way to building snowmen in the winter, before cycling back to spring again. One verse in each season references a major holiday, including Easter and Christmas. Original, charming, and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in concept, organization and presentation, "Four Seasons of Fun" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Four Seasons of Fun" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.68).

Bitter and Sweet
Sandra V. Feder, author
Kyrsten Brooker, illustrator
Groundwood Books
c/o House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Ave., Suite 801, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5V 2K4
9781554989959, $17.95, HC, 32pp,

When Hannah's family has to move, her grandmother tells her how she felt leaving the old country -- it was both bitter and sweet. As Hannah leaves her friends behind and tries to get used to a new house, she only feels bitterness. Was her grandmother wrong about the sweetness? Hannah starts to feel better about the move when she sees her new house in the soft light of the Shabbat candles. When a new friend reaches out with a special gift, Hannah realizes that sweetness can come from unexpected places and that she can even create some herself. Featuring art by illustrator Kyrsten Brooker combined with an original story by Sandra Feder, "Bitter and Sweet" subtly conveys the universal message that while life can be full of challenging moments, sweeter ones can be found and created. Of special interest is an author's note on the concept of bitter and sweet in Jewish culture. "Bitter and Sweet" is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Ted the Friendly Frog and the Tale of the Diamond
Scott McCall, author
Autumn Brook, illustrator
Brown Books Kids
c/o Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail Drive, Suite 205, Dallas, TX 75248-2871
9781612542751, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

Ted the Friendly Frog lives by a pond and spends his froggy days playing with his friends, hopping in the grass, and swimming very fast. One day, Ted's grandfather tells Ted something important he's going away for a few days, and could Ted look after his special diamond? Ted must not play with the diamond with his friends or even show anyone, for it is an old tradition to pass the diamond down to the next frog in the family, and it's a very valuable stone. In this bouncing and rhyming picture book tale by the team of author Scott McCall and illustrator Autumn Brooks, Ted learns the important lesson of listening to his family, even if it is more fun to play, and it is never too late to learn from a mistake. "Ted the Friendly Frog and the Tale of the Diamond" is very highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 4-7.

Under the Escalator
George Held, author
Bryan Caniff, illustrator
Filsinger & Company, Ltd.
9780916754235, $12.00, PB, 16pp,

"Under the Escalator" is an experiment with children's dark fantasy, which is both unnerving and empowering. A curious boy, accompanied by his white dog, wants to ride the escalator all the way around, to explore the underside of the escalator and come out through the cracks in the stairs above. The boy is both attracted and fearful of this dark side of the escalator experience, for he imagines electric and metal-robot-like troll figures who imprison him in a dark chamber underneath because he is unable to pay a toll they demand. The boy imagines being imprisoned in a dark jail-like chamber underneath whining metal stairs and sighing rubber railings, while over head, silent, sullen customers ride the escalator unable to hear his cries because of the noise of the indifferent machinery. Luckily the boy has a faithful white dog companion who notices his disappearance. Also, close observers and readers will note that a robot uses a wrench to lock the boy in the below stairs prison. So the final, conclusive page, with no text, but a portrait of the boy with his dog in front of the escalator, waving one hand and holding a wrench in the other, contains a telling clue to the positive outcome of his trip beneath the escalator. "Under the Escalator" is a bit intense for young readers, but many kids age 6 and up will respond positively to its dark fantasy appeal.

The Bling Bling Bird
Linda M. Gentry, author/illustrator
Knowledge Power Books
c/o Knowledge Power Communications, Inc.
9781732266544 $12.95, PB, 38pp,

"The Bling Bling Bird" is a creative story in catchy verse about a little blue bird who longed for some extra special bling to help her stand out from other birds. Minimalist illustrations show the little bird's discovery of a bright shiny necklace that the little bird discovers and appropriates for her bling wardrobe plans. All the other birds found her necklace to be very funny, but she persisted and found a way to glue tiny colored beads to herself all over from feathers to nose! She certainly had bling upon bling! However, Grannybird cautioned her, "You may be the pretties, that is true./ But now every cat can certainly find you." Indeed the little bird discovered wearing all the bling beads tired her out so much she could not escape the determined cat who wanted her for lunch. Grannybird to the rescue! Fortunately for the little blue bird, Grannybird's cleverness landed her in hot water, and instead of making bling bird stew, she lost most of her bling and escaped being eaten by the cat for lunch. Bling longings do not fade immediately, however. Taking Grannybird's precautions to heart, the little blue bird decided to just wear a little bling on her bow, so that she did not stand out too much, and was still free to fly away. "The Bling Bling Bird" is a very satisfying morality fable for young readers.

Ladies and Gentlemen..... The Penguins!
Ivor Davis, author
Dave McTaggart, illustrator
Cockney Kid Publishing
9780990371069, $9.99, PB, 30pp

"Ladies and Gentlemen..... The Penguins" is a delightful children's illustrated book about Sadie, a musical king penguin who stars in a hot rock group from the British owned Falkland Islands, down in the Southern Hemisphere, off the coast of South America. Living on the Falklands where the population is one million penguins, half a million sheep, and three thousand humans, Sadie and her friends decide to form a rock band called the Penguins. Written by the fifth Beatles, Ivor Davis, "Ladies and Gentlemen.... The Penguins!" is a total Falklands based spoof on the Beatles, with tons of in jokes, plus actual facts and figments about the Falklands. Sadie and the Penguins achieved high fame with their music, but not without competing with rock groups such as the Rolling Rockhoppers, and the Macaronie Plumes. Sadie and her brother Elias and cousins Levi and Ezra toured and sang their hits, managed by their manager, Brian Fishstein. They sang on the Ed Pelican Show, winning a prize for "We All Live in a Yellow Marine Ecological Reserve." The Queen even gave the Penguins the order of the Penguin Empire. But one day, Sadie woke up with a sore beak and falling out feathers. The Penguins were homesick. Touring wasn't fun any more. So they quit, cold penguin. But they still perform on cruise ships, and even write their memoirs. That's why Sadie wrote "Ladies and Gentlemen..... the penguins!!" This delightful Beatles homage story wouldn't be complete without "Everything You Wanted to Know About Penguins But Were Afraid to Ask, Fun Facts About the Falklands, and a cool Penguin Puzzle challenge which highlights the names of the four Beatles hiding in the preceding pages of the book. Last of all are four lovely black and white coloring portraits of each favorite Penguin, Sadie Elias, Levi, and Ezra. Kids of all ages will love "Ladies and Gentlemen....... The Penguins!"

Louisiana's Way Home
Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763694630, $16.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 240pp, Ages 10-16
9780525633938, $35.00, CD, Unabridged (Listening Library)

Louisiana's Way Home tells of a grandmother determined to leave home, taking Louisiana with her in the middle of the night, never to return. Louisiana is separated from her friends and dragged into a new world where she confronts different people, makes new friends, yet is afraid that the same thing will happen to her once she gets settled. A fine story about the roots of home and handling departures will involve teens in a warm read.

Charlie's Magical Carnival
Marit Tornqvist
Floris Books
9781782504603, $17.95, HC, 32pp, Ages 4-7,

Charlie's Magical Carnival opens with a carnival that comes to town; but Charlie's party hat, red balloon, and other embellishments are not to be found. Parents who choose this book for its unfolding pages (which likely won't stand up to the rigors of library lending) will find colorful carnival fun depicted both visually and in text in this fun story.

Born Bad
CK Smouha
Circada Books Ltd.
9781908714534, $16.95, HC, 32pp, Ages 4-9,

Born Bad tells of Wolf, who realizes that his appearance in the mirror seems to indicate he's a bad creature. And when he looks bad, he feels bad...and then he acts bad. How can this cycle be broken? Wolf consults a variety of creatures who all have ways of dealing with their appearance, but none of their techniques seems to work for him. How can a big bad wolf be less bad? A fun story emerges with lessons for kids and fun for read-aloud parents.

The Book Tree
Paul Czajak and Rashin Kheiriyeh
Barefoot Books
9781782854050, $17.99, HC, 32pp, Ages 5-8,

The Book Tree follows the joys of reader Arlo, who breathes in new beginnings, becomes lost in his book, and faces condemnation from those who think the ideas in books are actually dangerous. But, what would a world without books look like? Kids with good reading skills or read-aloud parents will appreciate the premise of a story that celebrates reading and book by addressing common criticisms about the value of both in a thought-provoking testament to freedom and literacy.

The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control
Orianne Lallemand & Elenaore Thuiller
9782733861479, $14.95, HC, 32pp, Ages 4-7,

The Wolf Who Learned Self-Control reviews the dilemma of a wolf whose moods change so fast, he confuses everyone around him. Obviously, he has little self-control over his emotions: the problem is, how does he learn this? Wolf may be "too excitable" but he is personable, and can be trained. His friends step in and unexpected results lend to a fine set of adventures as Wolf confronts his fears and his abilities and grows from his experience.

The Only Way is Badger
Stella J. Jones, author
Carmen Saldana, illustrator
Tiger Tales
9781680100983, $16.99, HC, 32pp, Ages 4-7,

The Only Way is Badger is illustrated by Carmen Saldana and tells of forest animals who wake up one morning to find that someone has erected a huge wall and put up posters extolling the virtue of badgers. Badger clearly thinks a lot of himself and wants others to emulate his strengths; but as other animals try his talents and fail, they are exiled to the other side of the wall. Is this really an appropriate ego-booster? A fun, thought-provoking story emerges that kids will really think about.

Coming Home
Michael Morpurgo
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781536200423, $17.99, HC, 32pp, Ages 3-7,

Coming Home receives lovely drawings by Kerry Hyndman, and tells of a robin who is lost and who sets out on a long journey to find his way back home in time for Christmas. It's too bad this lovely, evocative story arrived too late for holiday recommendation; but it should prove lasting value for any interested in seasonal holiday titles that offer a cut above the usual Santa focus.

Beach Lane
c/o Simon and Schuster

Kimberly Gee's Mad, Mad Bear! (9781481449717, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 40pp, Ages 5-8) tell of an angry little bear who has a bad day, from an 'owie' on the way home to a series of events that lead him to have a tantrum about life's unfairness. As he explodes, young picture book readers will relate to a very simple story of anger and its experience. Mem Fox's I'm an Immigrant Too! (9781534436022, $17.99, HC, 40pp, Ages 5-8) enjoys fun drawings by Ronojoy Ghosh as it explores the immigrants who make up not the U.S., but Australia. This celebration of cultural diversity and ethnicities educates kids about Australia as well as the appeal of immigrant groups and their contributions to society. Both are excellent additions for any library.

Tundra Books
350 Front Street West, Suite 1400, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 3B6

Two new books from Tundra provide lively stories young picture book readers will find accessible and unusual. Kelly Cooper and Lucy Eldridge's If a Horse had Words (9781101918722, $17.99, HC, 48pp, Ages 4-8) provides a particularly winning, evocative story of a relationship between a horse and a boy, which beyond when the boy rescues the foal from a muddy hole. The boy skips away and the foal recognizes that "This boy, he doesn't like the ground either..." and so a friendship links the two as the young foal, Red Badger, makes discovers about her world, linking language to her life. Horse training, experiences, and perceptions permeate a gentle story young equine fans will adore. Marianna Coppo's Petra (9780735262676, $17.99 HC, 48pp, Ages 3-7) tells of a mountain of...what? Petra is a mystery both to the narrator and the reader as she wonders about her own identity and demonstrates her abilities. The nearly-wordless story unfolds to reveal all of Petra's possibilities in this fun story of becoming and discovery.

c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

Two engaging picture books are fine picks for young readers seeking vivid drawings and fun stories. I Am Not a Fox by Karina Wolf (9780399174506, $16.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 32pp, Ages 3-7) receives fun illustrations by Chuck Groenink as it tells of a creature that looks like a fox, but acts like a dog. Is he either, or some combination? Gorgeous drawings will enhance either a picture book reader with good reading skills or an adult read-aloud experience. Drew Daywalt and David Spencer's The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick (9780399172762, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 40pp, Ages 4-8) provides simple diary entries that tell of best friends who journey around the world together. But, do both of them really have the same experience of their journey and each other? A fun contrast from different perspectives creates a memorable story of two very different attitudes between friends.

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Two fun picture book stories are lovely picks that promise to reach a wide range of readers. A Story Like the Wind by Gil Lewis (9780802855145, $16.00, HC, 80pp, Ages 9-14) receives blue/white drawings by London illustrator Jo Weaver and will attract parents looking for more than simple read-alouds or readers in grades 3-5 who want illustrations paired with stories. A small boat drifts, its inhabitants having lost everything, with the promise of freedom fueling their bid for a different life. Readers interested in the experiences of adversity will welcome a story that is vivid and engrossing and moves beyond an anticipated immigrant experience and well into the realm of a fantasy folktale that shares the stories, culture and dreams of all on board. Chris Raschka's Paul Writes (a Letter) (9780802854940, $17.00, HC, 40pp) will reach ages 6 and up with a winning story of the apostle Paul. The main themes of his epistles are translated into simple language kids can readily understand as young Christian readers enjoy a tale of how his efforts and writings are destined to change the world.

The Fiction Shelf

The Whispers
Greg Howard
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780525517498, $16.99, HC, 256pp,

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, the boy who is his 8th grade crush, liked him. Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again. Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn't realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever. A deftly crafted and fully engaging novel for young readers ages 10-12, "The Whispers" explores denial, escapism, grief, and LGBT issues. "The Whispers" is an especially recommended addition to school and community libraries. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Whispers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Haibu Lost in New York
Blake Freeman
Graphic Arts Books
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781513262215, $18.99, HC, 144pp,

In the small, northern village Montooka, Haibu always knew she can do anything she wants if she just set her mind to it. One day she tries to prove it and goes fishing all by herself, but a harrowing experience finds her stranded on a drifting piece of ice. Before she knows it, she arrives lost in a completely new land she's never seen before -- the city of New York! As Haibu discovers the city, she learns about a nearby circus that might have clues that would help her find her way back home. But the circus animals are in serious trouble and need help right away. Haibu and her new friends will have to put their heads together to come up with a plan in order to save the animals before things get worse. Impressively original, exceptionally well written, and ideal for children ages 6-9, "Haibu Lost in New York" by Blake Freeman is a wonderfully entertaining and very highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library contemporary fiction collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Haibu Lost in New York" is also available in a paperback edition (9781513262208, $7.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Robert Anning and the Almanac
Felix Ang
Bathara Putra, illustrator
Privately Published
9781729143001, $10.50, PB, 288pp

Robert Anning and the Almanac gives middle grade readers a detective story with a twist: unlike Encyclopedia Brown and others who readily receive and solve cases, Robert struggles with shyness and a resistance to public speaking. This impedes not only his schoolwork, but threatens his goal to become an investigator like his father. From why Mr. Shutter's class proves such a challenge, and its real purpose, to Robert's struggle with his own evolving abilities, Robert Anning and the Almanac is a delightfully original, fast-paced, engrossing read packed with unexpected twists and turns that will keep all ages immersed right up to its unexpected Christmas conclusion. Very highly recommended!

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Rise of the Dragons
Angie Sage
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545864961 $14.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Rise of the Dragons is a fantasy novel for young adults, set in the modern-day world - yet there is a hidden history of dragons. Two thousand years ago, dragons lived in harmony for humans, counseled kings and queens, and taught mortals the power of magic. Then a rogue group of dragons, the Raptors, sought to conquer the Earth for themselves, sparking a chain of events that banished all dragons to another realm. Now, the barriers and weakening, and both good and evil dragons are coming back! Eleven-year-old Sirin becomes the first child for form a deep friendship (a "lock") with a dragon in centuries. Sirin and her friends Joss and Allie quickly become ensconced in a cataclysmic struggle between the dragons who want to protect humans, and the dragons who want to destroy them! A breathtaking adventure that will encourage young dragon lovers to partake in the joy of reading, Rise of the Dragons is a welcome addition school public library YA fantasy collections, and also makes an excellent gift. Rise of the Dragons also comes with nine physical, collectible gaming cards that can be used to play a simple game re- enacting battle with the ruthless Raptors!

Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic
Frank L. Cole
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781629724881 $16.99 hc / $11.75 Kindle

The second book in the "Potion Masters" young adult fantasy series, intended for ages ten and up, Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic takes place nine months after the first saga. Gordy and his friends, Max and Adeliene return, and a sinister new threat poses grave danger to B.R.E.W. and the Vessel. Gordy begins the eighth grade, but when he starts to periodically black out, he knows something is very wrong. Adilene encounters a different trial - she learns that she will never be able to brew potions by herself, and only came close before because Gordy projected his ability through her. Crushed by this revelation, she goes against her better judgement to use an invisibility potion to spy on Gordy. Meanwhile, the malevolent Mezzarix plots to ensure B.R.E.W.'s permanent destruction! Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic is a thoroughly engaging, magical adventure, and a choice pick for school and public library Young Adult Fantasy collections. Also highly recommended is the first novel in the series, "Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir" (9781629723587 $16.99 hc / $7.59 Kindle).

The Lighthouse Between the Worlds
Melanie Crowder
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781534405141, $16.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 256pp, Ages 8-12,

The Lighthouse Between the Worlds will reach ages 8-12 with a fine story of Griffin and his father, who tend a lighthouse on the Oregon coast and live an isolated life. When a group of strangers shows up, Griffin is suddenly introduced to some new ideas; not the least of which is that their isolated life and his father's choices may harbor a dangerous secret, and that the ordinary lighthouse they tend might actually be something else. As a fantastic mystery evolves, readers are treated to a story that holds many delightfully unexpected twists and turns.

Children of Jubilee
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 4th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781442450097, $17.99, HC, 320pp,

Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive. But Edwy's tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can't find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive. An impressively original, deftly crafted, intensely entertaining, and thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end, "Children of Jubilee" by Margaret Peterson Haddix is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections for science fiction fans ages 10 to 18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Children of Jubilee" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Challenge of the Dragon
Joan Merkin & David Merkin, authors
Phil Gerard Godin, illustrator
Trafford Publications
9781490783116, $6.99 PB, $3.78 Kindle, 38pp,

"Challenge of the Dragon" is a youth fantasy children's tale about a brave prince and princess who undertake a quest to rid their kingdom, Alestria, of an evil black cloud which kills crops and spreads disease. Aided by their tiger Shirekan, and two magical rings bequeathed to them by the Queen their mother on her deathbed, the duo confront the dire dragon Terresca and manage to overcome his evil power through their magical powers of shapeshifting and a unity of spirits. Drama, intrigue, deception, and the truth of faithful ties are themes in "Challenge of the Dragon" that weave an intriguing tale of a mystical quest that is met with determination and fidelity by Prince Valerian and Princess Alisia, with the encouragement of their father, King Vladmimir. An unlikely ally appears in the shape of Mordimar, a mysterious old wizard who befriends the young prince and princess in their quest. Young readers will enjoy the twists and turns of this enchanting tale, with its brightly colored fantasy-laced illustrations. Values such as cooperation, belief in one another, and trusting in others are shining gold threads in the tapestry of "Challenge of the Dragon." Readers age 9 and up should be entranced by this new creation.

A Warrior's Path: Rise of a Legend
Gena Ervin
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road 102-345, Grapevine, TX 76051
9781641369749, $14.95, PB, 350pp,

The Legend of The Originators, passed down throughout generations, foretells of a chosen few who have been preordained to save the lands from destruction, uniting humans and magical creatures once and for all. Hadrien, a young prince, has accidentally killed his older brother with his budding magic. With the recent death of his mother, he had no one in his corner to protect him from his father's hatred, so he runs away from home. He finds himself deep in a dangerous forest when he is found by Arnolis, one of the magical warriors his father taught him to fear. Upon discovering Hadrien's magical abilities, Arnolis is convinced that the child is one of the chosen ones discussed in the legends. Arnolis takes on the responsibility of raising the child and trains Hadrien in the use of his powers before they become too strong for him to control. Lord Voth believes that he is the only true law. He wants a new order and his arrogance leads him to believe that he is the one spoken of in the legends, the bringer of destruction. He must find those who oppose him and destroy them. Launching a 'Chronicles of the Originators' YA fantasy action/adventure series by Gena Ervin for young readers ages 10-18, "A Warrior's Path: Rise of a Legend" is an original, deftly scripted, and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to school and community library YA Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Warrior's Path: Rise of a Legend" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).

L. A. Osgard
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781620235140, $14.99, PB, 186pp,

Jake has never hit a homerun. He doesn't have a cool dog. The only time they go on vacation is to visit his grandmother. Middle school is boring, except when he's hanging out with his best friend, Kacey. Jake loves baseball; he's gonna play in the MLB one day! His boring life changed in an instant the day Maynard peeked his head out of Jake's baseball bag during one of his games. Maynard's a Mystical Manatee. He disguises himself as a cute, little, stuffed animal, but he's way more impressive when he morphs into his HUGE, AMAZING, BIG-BAD-BUFF SELF! Jake is Maynard's first assignment, and Maynard must find a way to convince Jake to hop on his back and travel to Maynard's wonderful world because King Moo Moo and Queen Mee Mee have an urgent matter to discuss with Jake. Will Jake find the courage to join Maynard on an exciting adventure to Kahwallawallapoopoo, an island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean full of amazing creatures, where Jake's dreams just might come true? The debut novel for children ages 8-12, "Kahwallawallapoopoo: Maynard's Big, Bad First Assignment" is an extraordinarily entertaining read from cover to cover and will leave young readers looking forward to L. A. Osgard's next entry. While very highly recommended for family, community, school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kahwallawallapoopoo: Maynard's Big, Bad First Assignment" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014

Two fine new leisure choices for teens are highly recommended picks. Raziel Reid's Kens (9780735263772, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 256pp) is a satirical examination of Ken Hilton, who rules high school with his look-alikes. All the Kens are created from the doll factor, and Tommy can't help but find his own imperfection highlighted by their presence in the school halls. Now Tommy has the chance to become a Ken himself; but does he want this transformation? A thought-provoking story evolves. Ransom Riggs' A Map of Days (9780735232143, $22.99 HC, $11.99 Kindle, 496pp, Ages 12-18) adds the fourth novel to the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series, and provides mature teens with another adventure that revolves around hero Jacob, who is back in Florida with Miss Peregrine and the peculiar band of friends. The discovery of an underground bunker that belonged to his grandfather is just one clue to his mysterious heritage and its legacy in a probe of new secrets, hidden family truths, and another riveting adventure in which Jacob must do everything possible to save his world. Prior fans especially will appreciate this added exploration of Jacob's persona and growth.

The Multimedia Shelf

The Ants Go Marching
Sukey Molloy
PlayMove&Sing Inc.
P.O. Box 50, Nyack, NY 10960
9781532381256, $15.99, PB, Staple Bound, 26pp,

Sukey Molloy's "The Ants Go Marching" paperback picture book was created to accompany The Ants Go Marching track on her new Five Little Oysters! CD and is specifically designed to be read while listening, counting, and singing along. With playful nuances, and Sukey's colorful, felt art images, "The Ants Go Marching" invites children to count the marching ants throughout the song. A delightful accompaniment to Sukey's brand new Five Little Oysters! CD, "The Ants Go Marching" is a wonderfully entertaining little picture book that is especially recommended for children ages 2-5 and would be an enduringly popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, kindergarten, and community library collections. Also very highly recommended from this same series are Sukey Molloy's "Five Little Oysters!" (9781532381232, $15.00, PB, 22pp) and "The Story of Little Flame in the Arctic" (9781532381249, $15.00, PB, 28pp).

The Graphic Novel Shelf

A Cowboy In Paris
Jul, author
Achde, illustrator
Cinebook Ltd.
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781849184311, $11.95, PB, 48pp,

While once again dragging the Dalton brothers back to a new prison after their umpteenth escape, Luke comes across a French sculptor, Bartholdi, who's touring the West with a strange sculpture: a colossal hand holding a torch. In fact, it's part of the now famous Statue of Liberty, and Bartholdi is raising funds towards its construction and transport from France. But there are nefarious forces at work determined to destroy the statue before it can take it's place in New York's harbor. It's not long before our cowboy is recruited by his government to escort Lady Liberty's torch wielding hand across the West -- and then the statue itself from Paris! The latest and hilarious addition to the graphic novel series featuring our iconic fast-gun western hero Lucky Luke, "A Cowboy In Paris" is a wonderfully entertaining read and recommended for community library Graphic Novel collections. It should be noted for the legions of young Lucky Luke fans that "A Cowboy In Paris" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.70).

The Audiobook Shelf

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm
Christopher Paolini, author
Read by Gerard Doyle
Listening Library, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780593103616 $30.00

Now available in an unabridged audiobook rendition masterfully performed by television and Broadway actor Gerard Doyle, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm is an anthology of three original stories set in the fantastic world of the Inheritance Cycle. One year after Eragon departed Alagaesia to search for the right place to train a new generation of Dragon Riders, he is beset by seemingly endless labors: to construct a new dragonhold, haggle with suppliers, protect dragon eggs, and negotiate with aggressive Urgals and prideful elves. The arrival of unexpected visitors and more offers a welcome distraction! Scenes from Eragon's new adventure are interwoven with three stories in Alagaesia, in this thoroughly engaging audiobook highly recommended for fantasy connoisseurs of all ages and public library collections. 4 CDs, 5 hours.

The Music CD Shelf

The Shazzbots
Privately Published
$12.99 CD / $9.99 digital / $24.99 vinyl

Intended for young listeners ages 2-7, LIGHTSPEED! is the third engaging, family-friendly album from The Shazzbots, a triple Emmy Award-winning kindie band with a special knack for rock 'n' roll. The excitement and sense of high-velocity adventure are real, in this wonderfully energetic album perfect for children's parties or playtime any day. Some of the songs such as "Read A Book Today" have a strong positive message, too! Highly recommended, especially for personal and public library children's music collections. The tracks are "On the Playground", "Beauregard Ogilby Balderdash", "If You Knew Yuri Like I Know Yuri", "I Think I Lost My Dinosaur", "Chuggin'", "Clean Plate Club", "Read A Book Today", "Something's Stuck In My Kazoo" My Pa's Fun Truck", "Snow Day!", "Gravy Boat", and "Very Very Vivian". 34 min.

The Science Shelf

The 50 State Fossils
Yinan Wang, author
Jane Levy, illustrator
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764355578, $18.99, HC, 64pp,

Author Yinan Wang is a graduate of Princeton University and a life-long natural history enthusiast. Illustrator Jane Levy has a passion for art and education and an MFA from Ohio State University. Together they have collaborated in "The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists" to showcase an original and engaging introduction to paleontology for children 8-14 with such facts as Illinois's state fossil being the weird-looking Tully Monster, which had eyes on a pair of stalks and an elephant-like trunk that ended in a toothed claw. That Idaho's state fossil is the stocky Hagerman horse, named for the town where its bones were found. That dinosaur fossils can be found in every state. An impressively informative guidebook brings these ancient organisms to life. Each state entry contains details about the state fossil; an illustration of what the vertebrate, invertebrate, or plant looked like; a photograph or drawing of the fossil; and a state map showing where it can be found. Potential fossil candidates are proposed for states that do not yet have official state fossils, along with instructions on how to get state fossils designated. Of special note is the inclusion of an appendix that lists museums and parks where these fossils can be studied first-hand, making "The 50 State Fossils" a fun resource and inspiration for fossil enthusiasts and future paleontologists of all ages that is unreservedly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.

The Ocean
Sindy McKay, author
Treasure Bay Books
P.O. Box 119, Novato, CA 94948
9781601153104, $4.99, PB, 48pp,

"The Ocean" is a Grade Level 1-2 nonfiction title from the We Both Read series, with pairs of pages designed to be read by a parent or adult and a child together, promoting literacy skills and love of learning and reading. Emphasis is placed on parental praise for the child's reading efforts, and to encourage independent "sounding it out" efforts to read new or unfamiliar words. Preceding each page of text is a parent icon or a child icon, easily identifiable, so that both readers know their page texts. Like all We Both Read titles, "Ocean" is filled with stunning color photos of oceans, living sea creatures and habitats, and other marine related maps and illustrations. Many fascinating portraits of marine life are shown, including whales, sharks, plankton, and also benthos, including coral, sponges, anemones, sea stars, crabs, and clams. Even sea birds and mammals such as sea lions and sea otters and also sea turtles. Other chapters deal with ships on the ocean, and even sunken ships. A chapter on Caring for the ocean stresses the need for cleaning up marine pollution and trash. Young readers interested in "Oceans" learn that if we help take care of the ocean, it will help care for us. Like all We Both Read titles, "Oceans" contains a Glossary and Questions to Ask after Reading. "The Ocean" is an excellent learning resource for young readers in grades 1-2, with valuable partnered reading experience incorporated.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Bug Who Thought He Lost His Buzz
Kristen Barnett, author
Cindy Calzada, illustrator
Watts Bugging You
9781732623606, $16.95, HC, 48pp,

The 'Watt's Bugging You?' series of picture books has as its primary purpose helping parents talk through real life scenarios (terminal illness, death, adoption, disabilities, etc.) with their young children ages 1-7 by using faith messages, children's language, and children's characters (Bugs). In "The Bug Who Thought He Lost His Buzz: What Happens When the Big Bad Beast Stings" Bugsy, the bee, no longer feels his buzz, so, he goes to the hospital to see what is the matter. When he gets examined by Doc Fuzz, he soon learns he has the Big Bad Beast. Like many bees, he begins asking God the tough questions such as why. Luckily God is by his side to support Bugsy through the journey. Parents reading the "Bug Who Thought He Lost His Buzz" will be able to talk to their own little bee about being diagnosed with a terminal illness and then follow the activities at the front of the book and on the web site ( to continue talking to God what it means for your family. Thoroughly 'kid friendly' in language, messaging, organization and presentation, "The Bug Who Thought He Lost His Buzz: What Happens When the Big Bad Beast Stings" should be a part of every children's hospital and community library collections in the country. It should also be noted for the personal reading lists of parents with a child that has been diagnosed with a serious and life-threatening illness that "The Bug Who Thought He Lost His Buzz: What Happens When the Big Bad Beast Stings" is also available in a paperback edition (8-1732623613, $16.95)

The Poetry Shelf

Snow Day!: A Story Told in 24 Poem Forms
C. A. Nobens
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439
9781592986606, $19.95, HC, 48pp,

Showcasing winter fun, "Snow Day!: A Story Told in 24 Poem Forms" is a picture book written and illustrated by C. A. Nobens that will delight young children (and and adults) reading it. A coherent and multi-sectioned story that is carried along from poem to poem like a chapter book "Snow Day!" will engage and entertain primary and middle school readers. Plus, it is a wonderful poetry forms learning tool! Of special note is the inclusion of an index and guide to each individual poem with respect to meter, rhyme, and theme following the story. Some forms are simple enough that kids will be able to try writing them, right away. More complex forms introduce the concept of writing poetry as a great brain game! Cheery, evocative, poignant, and hilarious by page-turns, CA Nobens' illustrations perfectly capture the magic of a snow day, making it an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, school, and community library poetry book collections.

The Buddhism Shelf

Dragon Girl
Jade Bryan
Independently Published
9781790192960, $9.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle

Picture book stories based on Buddhist tales are relatively rare; much less those whose illustrations are inspired by the cave paintings of Mogao at Dunhuang and Kizil. Adults who choose Dragon Girl for its read-aloud potential and appropriateness for young readers might initially think such discussions are beyond the scope of a child's imagination. However, Dragon Girl is perfectly couched in the terminology, bright drawings, and perspective of a child, and thus brings the basic concepts in the Buddhist Lotus Sutra story "Devadatta" to life in an evocative manner. From the prejudice she experiences from monks who believe a kid and a girl cannot top their own sage efforts to awaken to how her awakening changes the world and its perceptions, Dragon Girl is rich in spiritual understanding. It's narrated using a compelling story line and a tone and richness of word and character that will appeal to any child, as well as to adults looking to introduce basic Buddhist concepts to the very young.

The Social Issues Shelf

A World of Kindness
From the Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press
Pajama Press
9781772780505, $17.95, HC, 32pp, Ages 3-6,

Kids receive a fine primer on how simple acts of kindness towards each other make a difference not only in the lives of strangers and acquaintances; but in the world around them. Simple questions designed for adult/child interaction and discussion asks children to consider just how to show kindness and consideration for others. Very simple concepts and lovely drawings excel in clarifying the concept and various ways it can empower a child, in particular, in a highly recommended survey all collections should have.

Books in Series

Alice K. Flanagan, author
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, MN 56003
9781503827905 $ 27.07 list or $18.95 library 24 pages hardbound

Written at a reading level Grade 1 for children from preschool to grade 2 ages, "Snowy" describes the spectacle of falling snow, formed from moisture in the sky that freezes and falls as snowflakes of many different sizes, most with six beautiful sides identical. Snowflakes are clear until hit by the light; then they appear white colored. Snow falls during cold winter months. Some warmer places rarely or never get snow. Snow blankets the ground and protects plant roots and some burrowing animals. Snow provides water for rivers and lakes that Earth's animals and people can use. snow can be light and fluffy or wet and sticky. Featuring large print and beautiful colored photographs to illustrate many different qualities of snow. "Snowy" is a part of the eight title series, Eye on the Sky. It is completed with a glossary of terms and a reference section on books and websites directing readers where to go to find out more. "Snowy" is an excellent nonfiction text for young children to read to learn about Earth's winter weather. Additional titles included in the Eye on the Sky series that are also highly recommended include the following: "Stormy (9781503827912, $18.95)," by Alice K. Flanagan, "Sunny (9781503827929, $18.95)," by Juniata Rogers, "Windy (9781503827936, $18.95)," by Juniata Rogers , "Windy (9781503827936, $18.95)," by Juniata Rogers, "Cloudy (9781503827868,$18.95)," by Alice K. Flanagan, "Foggy (9781503827875, $18.95)," by Juniata Rogers, "Icy (9781503827882, $18.95)," by Juniata Rogers, and "Rainy (9781503827899, $18.95)," by Alice K. Flanagan.

Jeri Cipriano, author
Red Chair Press
c/o Lerner Books
9781634403269 $25.32 (list) or $18.99 (S & L) 24 pages hardbound

"Mexico" is a new title from the Hello Neighbor series written for children ages 5-8 years in grades K to 3. Written in large type and filled with color photos and illustrations including maps, "Mexico"presents many different informative facts about the languages, culture, geography, flag, currency, foods, games, sports, history and customs of the many different peoples of Mexico. "Mexico" begins with the greeting "Hola!" which is Spanish for 'hello." Color coded sidebars provide additional tips or details about different subjects covered, and every page features brightly colored photographs and/or illustrations. A vocabulary section titled Words to Keep and a reference section titled Learn More At the Library offers added sources of information about Mexico. Additional titles from the Hello Neighbor series that are also highly recommended include: "Guatemala (9781634403856, $18.99)," by Joanne Mattern, "Haiti (9781634403290, $18.99), by Jeri Cipriano, "Dominican Republic (9781634403306, $18.99)," by Jeri Cipriano, "Canada (9781634403276, $18.99)," by Jeri Cipriano, and "Cuba (9781634403283, $18.99), by Jeri Cipriano.

Jason and Bobo
Sindy McKay, author
Meredith Johnson, illustrator
Treasure Bay
P.O. Box 119, Novato, CA 94948
9781601153548, $4.99, PB, 44pp, Ages 5-6,

Jason and Bobo, his dog, have an exciting summer day together with help from both parent and child readers in making routine daily choices. The child's page has fewer words and easier context, while the adult page presents more narrative detail and sometimes a helpful question for the child to ponder. Reading through "Jason and Bobo," a pre-K to K level reader notices and solves problems like, opposites definitions, "which item doesn't belong" puzzles, color pattern sequence questions, appropriate clothing choices, activity sequence illustrations, time telling problems, map-reading puzzles, and more. Every page has brain teasing illustrations and narrative text that keeps a reader's interest and involvement. parents and teachers and kids will love "Jason and Bobo" and the We Both Read series. Another excellent title from the We Both Read series that is also highly recommended is "Butterflies Up Close (9781601153562. $4.99)," by Sindy McKay, beautifully color-illustrated.

Blues for Unicorn -u-
Molly Coxe, author/illustrator/creator
Kane Press
225 East 46th St., #4D, New York, NY 10017-2924
9781635921106 $5.99 40 pages soft cover

"Blues for Unicorn" is a fun title from Bright Owl Books series on the long vowel u. Filled with delightful color photographs of adorable stuffed animal characters including, Mule, Unicorn, and two Bluebirds, "Blues for Unicorn" tells a tale of musicians who long to make cool music together. Mule wants to play a bugle, flute, or tuba in their newly proposed blues group, but Unicorn makes rules that won't allow these instruments because they aren't "cool." (it appears that Unicorn plays the ukelele, or possibly a tiny guitar). The talented blues duo agree to part ways (creative differences), and Mule finds two Blue Birds to make music with. Unicorn feels blue, and writes a tune, "Blues for Mule." This inspires Mule to rejoin Unicorn and make blues music with the two Blues Birds. Charming fantasy photos of Mule, Unicorn, the Blues Birds, and all the band's instruments help tell this fantastical tale showcasing the long vowel u. At the end, a Story starter about Mule and Unicorn's cool canoe invites young readers to continue the tale of Mule and Unicorn, while a final page invites readers to "Sing a tune to the Moon with Bluebird!" "Blues for Unicorn" is delightful, creative, fun reading for young readers longing to learn more about their long vowels ("U"). Other titles in the Bright Owl Books series on long vowels that are highly recommended include: "Save the Cake -a- (9781635920987, $5.99)," "Greedy Beetle -e- (9781635921045, $5.99)," "Lion Spies a Tiger -i- (9781635921076, $5.99)," and "Go Home, Goat -o- (9781635921014, $5.99)," all by Molly Coxe, author/illustrator/creator.

Colton's Time Machine Book 2: Lincoln, Edison and the Wright Brothers
Rebecca Massey
Hancock Press
9781948000086, $24.99 HC
9781948000093 $19.99 PB, 59pp,

"Colton's Time Machine Book 2: Lincoln, Edison, and the Wright Brothers" is a cool Colton story about using his time travel machine to meet Kolta, some dragon and other friends and make a time travel visit together to meet President Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861, the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on may 14, 1908, and Thomas Edison at Menlo Park, New Jersey, on December 31, 1879. Colton's handy dandy Time machine device appears to be a magical typewriter which he can use to choose the time and place he wants to visit. Along with his dragon friends and Tansy, Skylar, and Iggy (other fantasy friends), Colton actually meets president Abraham Lincoln, Wilbur and Orville Wright, and Thomas Edison. Colton helps President Lincoln draft the Gettysburg Address, test drives Wilbur and Orville Wright's flying machine, and watches Thomas Edison light up Menlo park with its first electric lights. Colton learns a lot of interesting, real facts about each of his famous people, along with amusing tips about how to manage a group of friendly dragon and other fantasy animal friends, all pictured in comic colored pictures every few pages. 10 year old Colton is a great young protagonist and role model time traveler in this exciting new pocket dragon series title for middle school readers. Another title from this same series that is also highly recommended is "Colton's Pocket Dragon Book 10: Wizard (9781948000192, $12.99)," by Rebecca Massey.

Crabtree Publishing Company
PMB 59051, 350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, NY 10118

These new series additions deserve ongoing consideration for any serious elementary-grade collection, providing young readers with colorful explorations of contemporary themes, issues, and lessons. New to the 'Disaster Alert' series ($23.49 each) is Rachel Seigel's timely California and Other Western Wildfires (9780778751748), which discusses the impact of fire disasters, the policies surrounding forest management and fire control, and the experience of survivors, from losing pets and homes to rebuilding. Many an adult reader will find it a revealing, engrossing account of what is becoming a yearly challenge for California residents and any in fire zones. David Jefferis' Model-Making Mindset addition Flying Models from Soaring Flight to Real Rockets (9780778750154, $20.70), directed to grade 5 readers and covering model-making's opportunities, key ideas, and challenges. This supports Grade 4 Common Core standards as it reviews flying models and their construction, giving tips on how to build them. Anne Rooney's Biologists in Action (9780778752042, $20.70) for grade 5 readers joins others in the 'Scientists in Action' series and considers how biologists study various life forms both in the field and in labs. Rachel Eagen's Meeting Needs in Our Community (9780778751854, $17.70) will reach Grade 2 readers with a basic introduction to ideas of finances, markets, scarcity, and prices. Young readers receive the basics on goods and services that are part of and can be observed in local communities. All are primers that will receive ongoing attention by elementary-grade students.

The Story Monsters Ink Shelf

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Sleep, My Bunny
Rosemary Wells
Candlewick Press
9780763692629 $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Patterns and habits fill our lives. Silently, they lead and guide. Whether morning rituals as we begin our day, or evening activities to end it. In this little story, nature follows along as little bunny winds down. Children learn by repetition, and these wonderful stories help to reinforce their own special habits and patterns. (Ages 2-5)

A Piglet Named Mercy
Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick Press
9780763677534 $18.99

Larissa Juliano

The superbly talented Kate DiCamillo has taken her middle grade series about a precocious pig named Mercy Watson and brought it into the laps of younger readers in Mercy's picture book debut! Mr. and Mrs. Watson are very low-key "predictable" people who start to wonder if there might be something more exciting out in the world. Lo and behold, a tiny, pink (and very unpredictable) pig finds her way to the Watsons' doorstep and captures their hearts from their first snuggle in her piggie blanket. (Ages 2-5)

Oliver Elephant
Lou Peacock and Helen Stephens
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536202663 $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet-toned rhyme gathers together all the heartwarming feelings of the holiday. Loving regards, planning, and sharing. Gift giving is a joy on both sides, and regaining treasures thought lost is such a happy time. The book is delightful, and the illustrations by Stephens are truly a treat. (Ages 2-5)

Go Away, Big Green Monster!
Ed Emberley
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316236539 $13.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

This is a die-cut book which creates a monster as you turn the pages. It is an excellent way to teach young readers about facing their fears in the dark. First you see his yellow eyes, then his big green nose and sharp white teeth. When the scary monster reaches completion, the reader then turns the pages and each piece of the monster disappears. This groundbreaking book about mastering fear and emotion through play and imagination has been a bestselling favorite for decades and feels as fresh and innovative today as it did 25 years ago. (Ages 2-5)

Peep and Ducky: It's Snowing!
David Martin and David Walker
Candlewick Press
9780763694333 $14.99

Sherry L. Hoffman

Peep and Ducky: It's Snowing! is a rhyming story that will appeal to younger readers. David Martin chooses predictable rhyming to entice the reader while telling a story about the simplicity and joys of playing in the snow with a friend. David Walker's use of color and mixed media brings the story to life on each page. Children will be sure to enjoy this delightful story about friendship. Find a comfy chair and some warm cocoa - this book is perfect for reading and snuggling with your little one as the snow begins to fall. (Ages 3+)

We Are (Not) Friends
Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant
Two Lions
9781542044288 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Navigating friendships can sometimes make for a tricky ride. Just when you think you got things figured out, something or (someone) comes along and forces change. These adorable friends show us it really is possible to work out those awkward and uncomfortable bumps along the way. (Ages 3-7)

Great Dog
Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco
Tundra Books
9781101919170 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Some of us may be thrust into situations beyond our control, and totally contrary to anything we know. Whether adoption into a new family, or a whole new cultural relocation, the new side has opened itself widely to you. In this story, a loving father shares the family lineage. In response to questions of doubt, he repeatedly assures his little one he will be a perfect fit, as all of those before him were. (Ages 3-7)

Invisible Jerry
Adam Wallace and Giuseppe Poli
EK Books
c/o Exisle Publishing
9781925335781 $17.99

Larissa Juliano

Beautiful, soft, and poignant illustrations showcase a story that will be imprinted on children's hearts long after the story has been shared. Invisible Jerry reminds readers of all ages what it feels like to be powerless, invisible, and irrelevant. Sweet Jerry wasn't targeted or picked on, he was just ignored every single day of his school age life. Until Molly came along. So many discussion points for children to ask/answer questions about themselves and their own friendships. A thought-provoking tale that will surely inspire readers. (Ages 4-7)

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters
Michael Mahin and Evan Turk
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781481443494 $17.99

Sherry L. Hoffman

As the story goes, Muddy was never one to follow directions, whether it was when his grandma told him to stay out of the mud or when he played his own music despite requests from a record producer. Muddy listened to the beat in his own heart and shared his love and talent for a powerful jazzy sound created with his gift of guitar playing and singing about life with authenticity, vivid words, and emotion. Looking for a book to inspire others to be themselves and strive to reach their lifelong goals? This one is ready to change the world, one reader at a time. (Ages 4-8)

Everything is Connected
Jason Gruhl and Ignasi Font
Bala Kids
c/o Shambhala Publications, Inc.
9781611806311 $16.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This powerful and healing concept that everything is interconnected is written by an accomplished educator and family psychologist. Gruhl believes in children, and desires that every child who has felt isolated or different discovers the unexpected and delightful ways we are all connected, so they never feel alone. (Ages 4-8)

The 5 O'Clock Band
Troy Andrews and Bryan Collier
9781419728365 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Shorty lives in New Orleans, where the streets breathe with life, and magic fills the air with music. The culture captures his heart, and the music fills his soul. Finding an old discarded trombone, his life begins to take shape. Forming a band with his friends teaches him commitment, and falling short of that commitment teaches him the importance of faithfulness to it. The wonderful streets of his lively hometown once again lead his heart to understand the value of a man, and what it takes for him to be a leader. The story is lively and full of heart, and holds the magic of childhood in the streets of New Orleans. (Ages 4-8)

If You Give the Puffin a Muffin
Timothy Young
9780764355523 $16.99

Larissa Juliano

This is a hilarious and surprising story about a moody little puffin who encounters a lot of unpleasant and irritating situations in "his" book. Yes, he realizes we are reading about him and he is not happy about it! Puffin wishes we would just focus our attention on penguins and stop asking him to eat silly things just because they rhyme with his name. This would be a fun fiction and non-fiction book lesson and who knows, maybe this little Puffin wouldn't mind that pairing! (Ages 5-6)

Four Seasons of Fun: Egg Hunts! Fireworks! Pumpkins! Reindeer!
Pamela Duncan Edwards and Sylvie Daigneault
Sleeping Bear Press
9781585364039 $16.71

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly a lovely book. The illustrations are as warm and engaging as the soft rhythm of poetry, as it floats through the joys of childhood and the wonder of nature that plays alongside us. Whether a gentle read before bedtime, or a snuggle read on the porch swing, this book is sure to be a favorite. (Ages 5-7)

Juan Felipe Herrara and Lauren Castillo
Candlewick Press
9780763690526 $16.14

Dr. Dawn Menge

What is it that you dream about? Imagine what you could do. This young son of a migrant family learned how hard it was to pick up and move each year. His childhood began in the fields, helping his mama pick flowers and feed the chickens. In school, he learned to spell words in English by pronouncing them in Spanish. His words became songs and poems... and he became the Poet Laureate of the United States of America and stood at the podium at the Library of Congress in front of his proud family and friends. This is a story about building your dreams, working hard, and reaching for the stars. (Ages 5-9)

Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair
Kate Messner, Heather Ross
Candlewick Press
9780763678470 $14.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

These adorable mice take their place as class pets very seriously. Always observing and participating in classroom activities, they become very excited about the school's science fair. Zeke quickly becomes very disappointed when he learns he IS the experiment. But these two incredible mice not only find a way to enter, but to win! A fun early chapter book that will encourage young readers. I loved it! (Ages 6-9)

Eddie Motion and the Tangible Magik
Suzanne de Malplaquet
Think Success Ltd
9781627471831 $13.39

Darleen Wohlfeil

What a great adventure of empowerment! Everyone can glean from this amazing journey. These two insightful kids are led on a path of discovery by creative creatures and newfound friends, bringing light, balance, and harmony to their lives. Self helps and formulas are provided, along with depths of insight that can help any of us on our own personal journey. (Ages 6-12)

Winnie's Great War
Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, and Sophie Blackall
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316447126 $16.99

Diana Perry

Here is a heartwarming imagining of the real journey undertaken by the extraordinary bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh. From her early days with her mama in the Canadian forest, to her remarkable travels with the Veterinary Corps across the country and overseas, and all the way to the London Zoo where she met Christopher Robin Milne and inspired the creation of the world's most famous bear. Any child who loves Winnie the Pooh will enjoy learning about the real bear that inspired all the books. I bonded with Winnie as, through all her terrible ordeals, she holds onto hope and finds the courage within her to face the next adventure. (Ages 8-11)

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World
Vashti Harrison
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316475174 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is truly an inspiring book. To single out any one achievement would be an injustice to the remaining, for each one is amazing in her own right. These women pressed beyond being viewed as odd, impractical, or idealistic, and dared to dream! They saw their world differently, and asked questions no one else was asking. They were trailblazers, innovators, and visionaries who not only made astounding discoveries in their day, but many that impact the world as we know it. (Ages 8-12)

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls' Rights
Malala Yousafzai and Sarah J. Robbins
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316527156 $6.42

Olivia Amiri, age 11

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls' Rights is a book about courage, standing up for what we believe, and the power of the human spirit. Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a true role model for all human beings. When a terrorist took over the region in Pakistan where Malala lived and declared that girls could no longer go to school, Malala challenged that and went to school anyhow at the risk of her life. She feels a girl should have as much right as a boy to go to school and I agree. She is an hero and an inspiration. Thank you, Malala for leading the way! (Ages 8-12)

Beauty and Bernice
Nancy Viau and Timothy Young
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764355806 $12.99

Olivia Amiri, age 11

Beauty and Bernice is a fun story about middle schoolers fitting in and finding their place and who they are. There's Bernice, who loves skateboarding, and there's Odelia, the pink "princess" who lives across the street. An unlikely pairing, however, they both learn and grow from each other once they let go of their obvious differences. (Ages 8-12)

Bah! Humbug!
Michael Rosen and Tony Ross
Walker Books
c/o Scholastic
9781407178189 $14.75

Diana Perry

An unforgettable retelling of Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic. Harry Gruber plays the role of Scrooge in his school's production of "A Christmas Carol," and he is extra nervous about the evening's performance because his father is in the audience - not away for business, as usual. Will the story's message of Christmas cheer and the redemptive power of love reach his father's distracted Scrooge heart? A wonderful story with a heartfelt message. (Ages 8-12)

Strays Like Us
Cecilia Galante
9781338043006 $16.99

Diana Perry

From the moment Fred (never Winifred!) spots a scruffy little mutt with sad eyes, she knows she's in big trouble. Toby's in bad shape, and Fred longs to rescue him from the old man with the mile-long mean streak who lives next door. But Margery - the straight-talking woman who is fostering Fred - says going over to their house is against the rules. This story opens the world of addiction and dementia for young readers and proves that a young teen can find the courage to overcome every obstacle in her way to happiness. (Ages 8-12)

The Spirit of Cattail County
Victoria Piontek
9781338167054 $16.99

Diana Perry

Sparrow doesn't have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there's something "unusual" about her. But Sparrow's not lonely - she has a best friend who's always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him ... because the boy is a ghost. This is a magical tale that weaves like a magic spell in and out of reality. There are so many twists and turns and surprises. A great bedtime book! (Ages 8-12)

The Hotel Between
Sean Easley
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781534416970 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a great novel and the writing is fabulous! It carries a soft tone that quickly feels familiar, and leads safely through the uncertainty of mystery and magic. Cameron, driven by images of a lost past, fears his present and is blinded to the future, hopelessly wishing and yearning for what once was. In Cameron's desperate search to find answers, he tries to uncover the past and comes face to face with the true power within himself. This story has heart, adventure, and wonder! (Ages 9-12)

Everything Else in the Universe
Tracy Holczer
Puffin Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
9780399163944 $16.99

Diana Perry

When her dad is sent to Vietnam to serve as an Army doctor, Lucy and her mother are forced to move to San Jose, California, to be near their gregarious, quirky Rossi relatives. Then her father is injured, and Lucy's mother has her move in with the Rossis to give her father some space to adjust and heal. Lucy feels pushed aside and left out of everything. Until a curious boy named Milo - whose own father is still in Vietnam - along with a mysterious packet of photographs and an eye-opening mission make Lucy see there's more to life, and helps to heal her broken family. Young readers will learn the point of view and mindset of returning vets and will become engrossed in following the clues to solve the mystery. A feel-good book if ever there was one. (Ages 10+)

One Chance
Sarah Frank
BeaLu Books
9780999092415 $11.95

Diana Perry

Being an orphan is tough and not knowing why makes it that much harder for Sandy. But now she's being sent to a new orphanage and middle school and needs to look forward, not back. Before moving, Sandy meets Brian at school, and he reveals the existence of the magical Stone of Discedo that allows whoever has it to time travel. Maybe this is her one chance to go back in time and find out what happened to her parents. However, the stone has its own history and its own rules. Readers won't be able to put this one down until the last page. (Ages 10-12)

The Turnaway Girls
Hayley Chewins
Candlewick Press
9780763697921 $16.99

Diana Perry

On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, 12-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. But she would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn't act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it's a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Freedom - to sing, to change, to live - is precisely what's at stake. Brilliantly written! Every page seems to reveal a secret. I hope to read another book about Delphernia and all the unforgettable characters in this wonderful book. (Ages 10-14)

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground
T.R. Simon
Candlewick Press
9780763643010 $16.99

Diana Perry

When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they've uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk's silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora's curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. In this riveting coming-of-age tale, award-winning author T.R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice. (Ages 10-14)

Bigger! Bigger!
Leslie Patricelli
Candlewick Press
9780763679309 $15.99

Larissa Juliano

Stories with bold colors and blocks on the cover immediately catch my interest and this action-packed building adventure will become a fast favorite for our littlest story monsters. We have a strong little constructor building a masterpiece, with one word (sometimes two words) of text on each page. The book gets better! better! as you turn each page and readers will also love the sweet (and surprise) ending when a sibling gets hands on little builders' blocks. Leslie Patricelli definitely deserves a spot in an author study rotation for elementary students! (Ages 2-5)

Hide and Seek
Anthony Browne
Candlewick Press
9781536202601 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This simple story gives a young sister and brother a childhood peek into the fear and joy of being lost and found! The illustrations are amazing, and provide for multiple visits to the pages in a challenging search of hidden objects. (Ages 3-7)

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!
Daisy Hirst
Candlewick Press
9781536203349 $15.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

The adorable monster siblings, Natalie and Alphonse are back with great expectations for the fun that awaits them when Natalie learns to read. But, see what happens when it is not as easy as Natalie thought it would be. The struggles of learning to read are real, and sometimes the words can look like birds' feet across the page. Oh, but the window of wonder that opens when those little birds fly free! (Ages 3-7)

The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs
Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316484343 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

This soft and cozy read will bring a loving close to every day. A great bedtime, or anytime reminder that little ones are just perfect when they give their very best hug! (Ages 3-6)

Mirabel's Missing Valentines
Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller
Sterling Children's Books
9781454927396 $16.95

Darleen Wohlfeil

This sweet story is so full of encouragement. What a great comfort it is to know that even in our smallest, shyest moments, we can bring joy to others! Mirabel is so shy that a simple act of exchanging Valentines with her class causes her great concern. But, in her faithfulness to meet the situation, she discovers her simple act not only brings happiness unexpectedly, but carries a joyous reciprocity as well. The illustrations by Olivia Chin Mueller are as sweet and enjoyable as the story itself. (Ages 3-7)

Angry Cookie
Laura Dockrill and Maria Karipidou
Walker Books
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536205442 $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Cookie is mad, and he just wants everyone to go away so he can sulk. When we keep turning the pages and Cookie realizes we are not leaving, he begins to tell us what has him in such a mood. It seems that all he really needed was for someone to listen to him. To be able to voice his feelings, and as he hears his own voice, he begins to realize it's not really that bad after all. Sometimes we just need a friend to listen, and to care about our feelings. An insightful tool for a caring look into those troublesome, grumpy encounters. (Ages 3-7)

Superhero Mom
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow
c/o Candlewick Press
9781536205671 $15.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

A tribute to moms everywhere! Playmate, friend, protector, and keeper, she is the most underrated superhero on the scene. She doesn't wear a cape or fly around, but she runs for the bus so fast it feels like flying; uses her super strength to carry her daughter's boots, coat, bag, and scooter; and can make bumps and bruises better with just a kiss. A great reminder for all the loving help she brings. (Ages 3-7)

Grumpy Duck
Joyce Dunbar and Petr Horacek
Candlewick Press
9781536204247 $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Have you ever had that little black cloud hover over your head? Somehow, nothing can lift it till it spreads so big it's covering everyone with you. The pond is dry, and it seems Duck is not happy about it. She doesn't want to roll in the mud with Pig, sing with Rooster, doze with Tortoise, eat laundry with Goat, or join any of the other animals in their pastimes. What will make Duck happy again? (Ages 3-7)

Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine
Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner
Two Lions
9781503900356 $17.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

Duck and Hippo are back! This unlikely pair shows the true power and magic of friendship. The sincerity of their actions continually brings their small community closer, and Valentine's Day is no different. Duck understands the heart of love and the excitement of having a secret admirer, so he plans a surprise for them all. Duck, Hippo, and their friends are good examples of sharing, caring and belonging. They may be odd matches on the outside, but on the inside, they are what friendship is all about. (Ages 3-7)

Even Superheroes Make Mistakes
Shelly Baker and Eda Kaban
Sterling Children's Books
9781454927037 $16.95

Larissa Juliano

This super sweet rhyming story takes us through various mistakes that a superhero might make - and how they remedy it! Waking up late for superhero camp? Make a new alarm clock! Mess up the choir? Work together and sing better and higher! The story goes back and forth between excuses we could provide and ways we can learn from them. Problem-solving theme packed with colorful, modern, and fresh illustrations will remind students of lovable superhero characters they have seen in the movies. A fun story with a great message for readers of all ages. (Ages 3-9)

Little Fox in the Snow
Jonathan London and Daniel Miyares
Candlewick Press
9780763688141 $16.99

Darleen Wohlfeil

An early peek into the circle of life. Little Fox sets out for adventure. He feels the thrill of the hunt and the quickening of breath in being the hunted. All in a day of the wild, he carries the knowledge of both. Once again safe in his hole, he contemplates better things. The tender tone of the story accompanies the soft illustrations perfectly, making this an enjoyable read. (Ages 4-8)

The Dress and the Girl
Camille Andros and Julie Morstad
9781419731617 $17.99

Sherry L. Hoffman

An extraordinary story about the power of association with items we hold dear to us. Strong memories can be elicited from those special objects that were with us during special times in our lives. In this story, a mother gifts a handmade dress to her daughter. The dress stays with the daughter during her childhood until she parts ways with it as she enters a new chapter of her life, moving from Greece to America. Though the dress and the girl part ways, the story is woven together beautifully as the dress is reunited with the girl during her adult years. A sweet reminder that our lives are filled with unexpected adventures. (Ages 4-8)

There's A Dinosaur on the 13th Floor
Wade Bradford and Kevin Hawkes
Candlewick Press
9780763686659 $16.99

Dr. Dawn Menge

Poor Mr. Snore needs to sleep and he can't find any peace. The room on the first floor is too noisy. The room on the second floor is too crowded. The room on the third floor is too damp. Mr. Snore finally makes it to the 13th floor. He finds a giant, empty bed that looks very inviting, so he curls up and tucks himself in and begins to snore. The bellhop soon receives a call from the 13th floor. "Someone is in my bed and I can't go to sleep." This delightfully illustrated book will keep your child entertained as Mr. Snore tries very hard to find a room to catch up on his
sleep. (Ages 4-8)

The Bossy Pirate
John Steven Gurney
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764356254 $16.22

Darleen Wohlfeil

Fun and friendship have a lot in common. They both require a lot of give and take. Jack and his friends share in imaginary play, and his bedroom quickly becomes an amazing pirate's ship. All are having fun, until Jack takes his part as Captain a little too seriously, and barks out orders till there is mutiny on the high seas. So you see, in order for friendships and fun to really be, it can't become all about me. (Ages 5-6)

The Infamous Ratsos: Project Fluffy
Kara LaReau and Matt Myers
Candlewick Press
9781536200058 $14.99

Macaulay Smith, age 7

Ralphie Ratso's brother Louie Ratso is shocked when the most popular kid in school, Chuck Wood, asks him for help to win over the heart of his crush, Fluffy. Unfortunately, she's only interested in one thing: Her garden. Meanwhile, Ralphie feels left out and sad that his brother Louie isn't spending time with him, when they're supposed to be working together on a poem for the poetry contest! While Louie and Chuck work on Project Fluffy, Ralphie tries to tell Louie how much he misses him. This is a good book, with some great lessons in it! (Ages 5-8)

Did Dinosaurs Have Dentists?
Patrick O'Donnell and Erik Mehlen
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764356025 $14.99

Julianne Black

This adorable sing-song project has just enough dinosaurs to make it fun and just enough dentistry to calm a worried young mind. With this bright, lighthearted, and fast-paced book, O'Donnell and Mehlen accomplish exactly what they set out to do: create a connection that softens the stress of a first dentist visit. Plus, they get extra points for taking the time to add a comprehensive educational list/overview of the dinosaurs mentioned and the dentistry terms touched upon. (Ages 5-8)

Baxter's Corner series
L.S.V. Baker and M.E.B Stottmann
Baxter's Corner

Darleen Wohlfeil

This is a great series for early childhood character building. Each adorable animal becomes relatable, and offers solutions and means to equip us to make good choices. Covering such topics as Respect for Others, Compassion, Resilience and Cooperation, plus so much more. Each story encourages us to accept ourselves, and to be the best we can be. Every book provides fun facts about the main animal characterized in the story. Along with helpful hints on how to maximize the stories learning potential, and make it personal to each reading audience. (Ages 5-9)

Sarah Weeks
9780545846653 $17.99

Diana Perry

All her life, Aurora has heard stories about Heidi and all the good luck she brought Aurora's family. Aurora, though, doesn't feel very lucky. The kids at school think she's weird. And she's starting to think her mom thinks she's weird, too. Especially compared to Heidi. On the eve of a visit from Heidi, more bad luck hits Aurora's family. There's a fire in their attic, destroying a good part of their house. And, even worse, Aurora's beloved dog goes missing. Young readers will bond with Aurora and parents may find this book a valuable teachable tool. A wonderful bedtime reading book. (Ages 8-12)

Class Pets: Fuzzy's Great Escape
Bruce Hale
9781338145182 $5.39

Diana Perry

Fuzzy is the ambitious and unfortunately named guinea pig of class 5B. He has big plans for this year - namely, to be president of the Class Pets Club. Then the cutest, most charming new bunny shows up and spins Fuzzy's plan like a hamster wheel. There's only one way to topple the adorable new club president: Fuzzy is taking the pets on a field trip! This is a great book for young readers. Full of adventure and fun. (Ages 8-12)

We Were Made For Each Other!
Jiu Er and Julie Nesrallah
The Secret Mountain
9782924774229 $17.95

Julianne Black

Sweet and gentle moments of illustrated mindfulness. With friendship, gratitude, kindness, and patience... the characters Little Sun, Miss Rabbit, and Little Mouse have a timeless Winnie the Pooh feel. Partnered with beautiful, heartfelt pictures by author and artist Jiu Er, this work is a lovely presentation. (Ages 7-9)

Dog Diaries: A Middle School Story
James Patterson, Richard Watson and Steven Butler
Little, Brown Children's Books
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
9780316487481 $9.99

Olivia Amiri, age 12

Dog Diaries: A Middle School Story is a fun book told from the point of view of Junior, Rafe's dog. Rafe rescued Junior from a dog shelter. Junior tells us what his life as a dog is like and what it's like being Rafe's dog. Unfortunately, Junior is misbehaving and has to go to dog obedience school. Will he be the Best Trained Dog? Read the book to find out! (Ages 7-11)

The Light Jar
Lisa Thompson
9781407171289 $11.29

Diana Perry

Nate and his mother are running away. Fleeing from an emotionally abusive situation, they hide out in an abandoned cottage in the middle of a forest. Though it's old and run-down, at least it's a place of their own. Then Nate's mother heads off for groceries and doesn't return. Has she run into trouble, or simply abandoned him? He is left alone and afraid, but comfort can come from the most unexpected places, like a strange girl trying to solve the mystery of a treasure hunt, and the reappearance of a friend from his past. Young readers will enjoy trying to solve the two mysteries - finding out what happened to Nate's mom, and following the clues to find Kitty's treasure. (Ages 8-12)

Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts
Katie and Kevin Tsang
Sterling Children's Books
9781454932550 $12.95

Macaulay Smith, age 7

Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts is a really great book. I loved it! The main character, Sam Wu is taunted by the school bully Ralph Philip Zinkerman the Third. Ralph says that Sam is a scaredy-cat and calls him 'Sam Wuzer,' and laughs that he can rhyme Sam's name with loser. After a trip to the space museum and a dare that went embarrassingly wrong, Sam Wu channels his favorite TV show characters, and tries to prove that he is brave and definitely not afraid of ghosts... even though he actually is! I couldn't put this book down, and I also liked how fun all of the pages in the book are! There's so much to like about this book! I highly recommend it! (Ages 7-12)

A Promise Stitched in Time
Colleen Rowan Kosinski
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764355547 $12.99

Diana Perry

Promises can be hard to keep, but Maggie McConnell is determined to keep the promise she made to her father before he died. She must win a scholarship to a prestigious art program, but her grief gets in the way as she struggles to find her artistic vision. When Maggie purchases an old tweed coat as inspiration, she never guesses this special coat will forever change the way she views life and her place in it. There is a mystery to this tale that connects the coat to someone dear to Maggie's heart. With a brilliant plot, readers will love how all the different parts weave together to become one complete story. (Ages 8-12)

The Witching Hours: The Vampire Knife
Jack Henseleit
Little, Brown Children's Books
9780316524667 $16.99

Macaulay Smith, age 7

This book is spooky! Siblings Anna and Max love scary stories, but things get too real while staying at a hotel in Transylvania. Both kids catch a mysterious white-eyed figure looking at them, who turns out to be a vampire! When Anna wakes up from an awful nightmare, she finds that Max was replaced with a bear, and the vampire had taken him. Anna has to enlist the help of the innkeeper's daughter Isabella to help rescue Max. If you like books like Goosebumps, you'll love this book! (Ages 9-12)

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind
Darlene Foster
Central Avenue Publishing
9781771681209 $8.95

Diana Perry

Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb on a field trip as they visit an ancient landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda's travels. This was a fun book to read. I think young readers will enjoy the discussion questions at the end. Fun and educational! (Ages 9-12)

90% Human
M.C. Berkhousen
Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC
9781946329752 $11.95

Diana Perry

Luke Brockway has a secret. As a result of an old family curse, he has tiny eagle feathers under his arms. No one knows, not even his brother, Austin. Now Luke and Austin are at camp, and it's a challenge to keep the feathers hidden. As the days go by, Luke, Austin, and their friend Megan
face even greater perils. When disaster looms, Luke must choose between saving his friends and facing life as an eagle. Will he find a way to become 100% human again? I found much excitement, adventure, danger and several delightful mysteries to solve in this book. Young readers will love how the mysteries unravel, and parents will find this book a great way to get their kids to read more. I couldn't put it down. (Ages 10-14)

The Unspeakable Unknown
Eliot Sappingfield
G. P. Putnam's Sons
9781524738488 $16.99

Diana Perry

In this sequel to A Problematic Paradox, Nikola Kross has battled aliens and won. But her father, who was kidnapped by evil extraterrestrials, is still missing, and now it's up to Nikola and her friends to find and rescue him before it's too late. I believe that kids will find this book thrilling with its use of technology. Young readers will love trying to figure out how to help Nikola. I loved the surprise ending. (Ages 10+)

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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